January 4, 2014

My Ideal Bookshelf

I've been enjoying thumbing through a copy of My Ideal Bookshelf. The book collects lists of favorite books and invites readers to build their own:

Select a small shelf of books that represent you—the books that have changed your life, that have made you who you are today, your favorite favorites.

It's not hard for me to build a list quickly—

  • Middlemarch/George Eliot
  • Portrait of a Lady/Henry James
  • Emma/Jane Austen
  • The Great Gatsby/Scott Fitzgerald
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles/Thomas Hardy
  • Howards End/E. M. Forster (take a look at Zadie Smith's On Beauty, too)
  • My Stroke of Insight/Jill Bolte Taylor
  • The Complete Book of Breads/Bernard Clayton (and this selection prompts me to add a list for My Ideal Pantry—flour, yeast, onions, garlic, potatoes, and salt. You could eat well for months with just those items.)

My bookshelf would probably have room for some essays and poems too. I'd keep a stack of New Yorkers and volumes by Verlyn Klinkenborg, Hal Borland, E. B. White, Pico Iyer, Anais Nin, Susan Sontag, W. B. Yeats, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Come to think of it, there'd be some mysteries, too. I'm addicted to old British mysteries, so probably some Cyril Hare, Edmund Crispin, and Dorothy Sayers